Šarlo Akrobata (Charlot the Acrobat, a Serbo-Croatian version of Charlie Chaplin‘s name) was a seminal Yugoslav post-punk band from Belgrade. Short-lived but extremely influential, being one of the most important acts of the Yugoslav new wave movement (Novi Talas). The power-trio left an indelible mark on the entire music scene, playing skeletal, energetic ska-core with a post-punk sound reminding of Gang of Four, XTC, The Stranglers, Public Image Limited, and Frank Zappa!
Let’s go to our artist:
The origin of the new wave scene in Serbia can be found in Belgrade late-70’s bands Zvuk Ulice, Limunovo Drvo, and Hipnotisano Pile. These three featured the future members of milestone groups Idoli, Šarlo Akrobata, and Električni Orgazam.
Guitarists Milan Mladenović and Dragomir Mihajlović performed hard rock for two years in Limunovo Drvo, before adopting the punk rock on the arrival of the bassist Dušan Kojić ‘Koja’ and drummer Ivan Vdović ‘VD’. After the departure of Mihajlović (who would play on Katarina II), they finally renamed to Šarlo Akrobata!
Over 1980-81, its first recordings were released on the compilation Paket Aranžman, today considered one of the most prominent Serbian/Yugoslav rock releases. After a second prize on Subotica Youth Fest and performance on Zagreb Bienalle, they recorded their only album, Bistriji Ili Tuplji Covek Biva Kad… (Brighter or Dumber a Man Gets When…) in April 1981, combining punkish energy with dissonant, avant-garde, and a daring approach both to the playing, recording, and performance.
The band disbanded in the winter of 1981 after a tour in Poland; Milan Mladenovic started a successful and prolific group Ekatarina Velika, and Dusan Kojic formed the progressive punk act Discipline Kičme. The alleged reason was different views on how to continue their musical expression; around 1982, the New Wave scene started to decline, as a large number of acts moved towards a more commercial sound.
During the ’80s, Đorđe Balašević, for instance, dominated the mainstream pop scene, but various other rock genres also emerged, such as Jakarta, Oktobar 1864, Beograd, La Strada, Zana, and Rambo Amadeus, starting to develop and gain mainstream popularity, not only in Yugoslavia but all around Eastern Europe!
Let’s go to our album:
A unique punk record, full of furious guitar riffs, raw bass sound, and wild shouting! Lyrics are either nonsensical, randomly recited, either rebellious, a true example of punk angst, either minimalistic representing an auditive graffiti painting. (!)
This is a record full of studio tricks that are deconstructing a classical approach to the songwriting, gradually (or abruptly) adding/subtracting instrumental layers in the songs, repeating simple one-two-three-four chorus ad nauseam, making at mantra at first, and then deconstructing it by simply adding polyrhythmical pattern on bass, while drums get heavily processed with an echo effect and other modulations.
Lastly, this record is a lot different from everything that we used to hear so far, Avant punk is the perfect title to add to these crazy geniuses, forget about Ekatarina Velika (my personal favorite) and other Serbian entries, this is where it all began, observe closely and plunge forward into it, the one and only Šarlo Akrobata!
The ‘IM’ highlights are Rano Izjutra and O, O, O…
A1 Šarlo Je Nežan
A2 Pazite Na Decu (I)
A4 Sad Se Jasno Vidi
A5 Rano Izjutra
A6 Ljubavna Priča
A7 Samo Ponekad
B3 O, O, O …
B5 Ja Želim Jako
B6 Pazite Na Decu (II)
- Bass, Vocals: Koja
- Drums, Vocals: Ivan Vdović
- Guitar, Vocals: Milan Mladenović
- Design, Photography: Goran Vejvoda
- Photography: Danko Đurić
- Artwork (Design): Šarlo
- Producer, Music, Arranged, Lyrics: Šarlo Akrobata
- Producer: Toni Jurij, Mile Miletić
- Producer, Recorded: Đorđe Petrović
Recorded in Studio 5, Beograd, April-May 1981.
- Recorded: Studio V PGP RTB
- Printed: GIP Beograd
Jugoton – LSY 66145